Helen Palmer (nice_cup_of_tea) wrote,
Helen Palmer

Final Thoughts on my research

I’ve been musing all week about the dissertation and stuff, and have talked to Alan quite a lot about it all. He keeps saying he’s so proud of me. It’s strange, but I still feel flat and deflated. I’d been looking forward to finishing so much, I thought that I’d feel so different, so exhilerated, so relieved. But now it’s over I feel nothing, maybe just a little bit sad and empty? And I don’t know why I feel like this.

I’m proud of myself for finishing and I certainly feel really happy with the end result. I know that it’s the best work that I could do. Alan said that feeling deflated was normal. That you’d worked so hard, at such personal cost, that it was normal to feel flat and tired when it was all over. And that other people wouldn’t really understand the cost or the work involved. I just feel eager for the next period of my life to start, to get a job, start working, to start attacking new challenges.

We were talking about me doing a part-time PhD sometime in the future. And Alan said I really had to think carefully about the difficulties I had faced writing up the masters’ thesis. He reckons I get paralysed by fear and that that my word limits show that I still have a real problem. What do I think? I’m frustrated that I faff so much and get so easily distracted – but know that when I put my mind to it, I can work hard and finish. My need for perfection sometimes prevents me from working at all. My desire to read and find the “absolute truth“ stopped me from writing. And I think writing earlier would have helped me focus my thinking. I still don’t know how to handle my problem with word limits. I know that I wrote too much, but maybe if I’d kept writing and edited quicker, maybe it wouldn’t have been such a problem? My main problem was that I didn’t want to admit that I’d written too much or that my argument could be shorter, clearer and cleaner. I should have been writing and editing all the way through the research process, instead of seeing the writing as a final and separate / unconnected phase.

My major mistake though was the literature review. I feared it all along and never really got to frips with it. I didn’t write it until I’d written all the other chapters and then had to do three rewrites. It didn’t help that I wasn’t absolutely clear on my exact research question until quite late into the process. I described things in too much details, trying to “prove” how much I’d learnt, rather than relating it to the research question. The first version of the lit review should have been done before the data collection. I was scared and feared it, so kept pushing it away – but in the end this just caused more problems and more pain. I should have just faced down the problem at the beginning. The first draft did NOT need to be perfect! I need to learn to work with and embrace more fears. I also realise that my relationship with my supervisor could have been better. I expected to much approval from her and should have been more honest and upfront about my problems with her.

In the end I quite enjoyed the final edits of my research. I wish I could have felt that from the start. I enjoyed the challenge of keeping the essential essence of my argument, whilst cutting away the unnecessary words. I needed to realise that just because I had written something, didn’t mean that these words needed to stay in the final version. The research diary was a huge help and I wish I could have hosted it on Livejournal from the start, because I think I would have got interesting dialogue and support from the lj community. Reflecting and writing worked as a kind of therapy and really helped me to keep going when it got hard. Overall I’m glad I did the research, I’m proud of my results and I’m even prouder of myself.
Tags: research

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